Musaraña’s ‘Despojo,’ A Timely Musical Genre

Musaraña BeLatina Latinx
Photo by Quique Cabanillas & Anomalo Estudio.

Listening to Musaraña, a new musical venture for Millennials, is to be spellbound and open-mouthed, swirling in a world of random thoughts set to a percussion beat. The mix of sounds and rhythms created by Musaraña is a new genre called despojo to be rid of something and is the perfect soundtrack for these strange and unpredictable times. We need to let go.

Musaraña which in Puerto Rican slang means daydreaming is the brainchild of Boricua singer/songwriter/ performer Maria Laboy and producer Andres Rigau. The sound is a brew of Puerto Rican Afro-Caribbean music, with layers of salsa, perico ripiao, reggaeton, bomba, plena, and futuristic arrangements. It’s a psychedelic Caribbean flower child’s answer to the present dystopia.

“We came up with an idea of a new Latinx music genre called ‘Despojo,’” Laboy said in an interview with Be Latina.

Laboy is half Iris Chacon the Puerto Rican curvaceous singer, dancer, and entrepreneur and half Janis Joplin the American singer/songwriter with the powerful mezzo-soprano voice and the Woodstock vibe. Born and bred in San Juan, Laboy was schooled as a performer by the standard-bearers of the Afro-Puerto Rican music the Cepeda Family.  She became “La Chacon” in New York when she took to the stage to imitate “La Bomba de Puerto Rico.” 

As a millennial bailadora, she honors the legacy of Iris and other ’60s and 70’s Queens of Latin music like La Lupe and Celia Cruz. Laboy, dressed in colorful David Bowie-like costumes, wants us to dance and forget our sorrows. This, she believes, is much needed in an America that suffers fires, floods, racial unrest, a plague, and Donald Trump.

One thing is for certain, Laboy and her music will make you forget and smile at all the confusing things around you. 

“We decided to do this music that is not only a danceable, psychedelic rumba for the Millennials but something that provides us with a lot of percussion and sounds that help us disconnect from the sufferings of our daily life,” she says. It intends to be much more than music; it’s a release. 

Laboy says she also took a cue from her African roots and made the drums a central feature of the music, much like her ancestors used the beats of the drums, like Palo, to forget their sorrows and the hardship of daily labor. This she applies to what her generation is enduring today.

“Our generation is facing huge social, political, and humanitarian challenges. We need a way out, and I am providing this for the community to congregate and let things go,” she said. “When I dance, I experience an out of body experience where I let go and sync with the music, and something takes over you, and you let go.”

“The idea of Musaraña is to let go of Musarañas, of random thoughts that take over us. And the despojo is that,” she said. 

Munchie Sexual (which is self-explanatory) is the first single released recently, and it is an excellent introduction to the music that Musaraña is offering to the world. It’s music that allows you to “despojarte” let go of everything and not care about what you look like or what people think. 

You can listen to Munchie Sexual on major streaming platforms. The album, which features track titles like “Diamante,” “Invento,” and “Despojo,” is set to be released this year.